From the Walking with Saints series

Śyāmarāṇī dāsī: Several times you have told us that when we pray to Lalitā, Viśākhā, or Girirāja Govardhana, they do not hear because we are not śaraṇāgata (surrendered) devotees. When I pray to Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura, who is closer to us than Lalitā or Govardhana, is he hearing us? Who is hearing us when we pray to them all?

Śrīla Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Mahārāja: Gurudeva.

Śyāmarāṇī dāsī: Whomever we pray to, only Gurudeva is hearing us?

Śrīla Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Mahārāja: Gurudeva hears you and mercifully tells Śrī Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa does not hear your prayers, because He is always engaged in pastimes with the gopīs.

Śyāmarāṇī dāsī: But what if we pray to Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura or Śrīla Svarūpa Dāmodara Gosvāmī, who are nearer to us? Are they hearing?

Śrīla Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Mahārāja: You should pray to all of them through Gurudeva, because Gurudeva is hearing.

Śyāmarāṇī dāsī: And Gurudeva tells them to kindly listen to us?

Śrīla Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Mahārāja: That is why in Deity worship (arcana) we give the bhoga (un-offered foodstuffs) to Gurudeva and pray, “O Gurudeva, please offer this to Śrīmatī Rādhikā, Śrī Kṛṣṇa, and the others.”

Śyāmarāṇī dāsī: So you and our Prabhupāda are very important. We can’t go to anybody except through you both.

Śrīla Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Mahārāja: Through Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Svāmī Mahārāja. I am not qualified.

Madhu-paṇḍita dāsa: Can our ācāryas hear our prayers on their appearance and disappearance days? Or, is it still only through you?

Śrīla Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Mahārāja: First offer your prayers to Gurudeva. Offer your obeisances to him and take permission from him, and then offer your prayers and glorifications to the ācārya whose appearance or disappearance day it is.

from the second issue of ‘Engineering Your Inner Self’.